Friday, September 22, 2017


During the 1970s, WISCONSIN resident CONSERVATIVE Political Commentator/Talk Show Host/Author CHARLES SYKES was a LIBERAL!!!

1980 brought about the election of Conservative CALIFORNIA Governor RONALD WILSON REAGAN as our 40th POTUS, and; SYKES was Born Again as a card-carrying Conservative.

November 6, 2016 brought about the election of Conservative NEW YORK Business Mogul DONALD JOHN TRUMP as the 45th POTUS, and; like millions of Americans, Sykes is like OMG, WTH, and; SMH.



During the 2016 election, conservatives turned on the principles that had once animated them. Somehow a movement based on real ideas—such as economic freedom and limited government—had devolved into a tribe that valued neither principle nor truth; luminaries such as Edmund Burke and William F. Buckley Jr. had been replaced by media clowns such as Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos. Icons such as Ronald Reagan—with his optimism and geniality—had been supplanted by the dark, erratic narcissism of Donald Trump. Gradualism, expertise and prudence—the values that once were taken for granted among conservatives—were replaced by polls and ratings spikes, as the right allowed liberal overreach in the Obama era to blind them to the crackpots and bigots in their midst.

Some have argued that the election was a binary choice, that Hillary Clinton had to be defeated by any means. I share many of their concerns about Clinton, but the price was ruinous. The right’s electoral victory has not wiped away its sins. It has magnified them, and the problems that were exposed during the 2016 campaign haven’t disappeared. Success does not necessarily imply virtue or sanity. Kings can be both mad and bad, and the courtiers are usually loath to point out the obvious—just look at Caligula or Kim Jong Un.

Today, with Trump in office, the problems of the right are the problems of all Americans. And the worst part of it is that we—conservatives—did this
to ourselves.
Donald Trump is the president we deserve.
The real turning point came with the election of Barack Obama and the
rise of the Tea Party. While many of its discontents can be traced to 
the Bush years—Medicare Part D, changes to immigration policy and 
the big-bank bailouts—the Tea Party did not gain traction until after 
Obama’s victory. 

The timing fueled suspicion that the movement had more to do with 
the new president’s race—and party affiliation—than his policies, yet the 
early days of the Tea Party defied easy categorization. Despite the 
caricatures and repeated attempts by the left to portray them as dangerous 
or bigoted, Tea Party rallies were generally orderly events—and 
extraordinarily diverse. As the writer John Avlon put it in his book 
Wingnuts: Extremism in the Age of Obama, attendees at a typical rally 
included “libertarians, traditionalists, free-marketers, middle-class tax 
protesters, the more-patriotic-than-thou crowd, conservative shock jocks, 
frat boys, suit-and-tie Buckley-ites and more than a couple of requisite 
residents of Crazytown.”
The Tea Party soon became the face of the conservative movement, 
firing up a base that had been defeated and demoralized. As Avlon noted, 
the movement marked an aggressive shift in tactics, as some 
conservatives decided to “mimic the confrontational street theater of 
the far left they had spent decades despising. Civility was the first 
calculated casualty.” At rallies, signs comparing Obama to Hitler 
began popping up (as they had on the left with George W. Bush), while
 literature appeared skewering “Obama’s Nazi health plan.” Legitimate 
concerns over rationing health care morphed into overheated rhetoric 
about “death panels.” All of this was dramatically accelerated by the 
rise of a perpetual outrage machine that included scam PACs and 
even the venerable Heritage Foundation, pushing the GOP into 
increasingly extreme and untenable positions, which ultimately led 
to a futile government shutdown.
Few on the right pushed back against these excesses. “In this 
environment,” Avlon noted, “there are no enemies on the right and 
no such thing as too extreme—the more outrageous the statement, 
the more it will be applauded.” Even after Representative Joe Wilson 
was censured for yelling “You lie!” at Obama during a speech on 
health care in 2009, many on the right hailed the South Carolina 
Republican as a hero.
In the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, this shift toward
vulgarity and bluster accelerated. But perhaps the defining moment
 occurred on March 23, 2011, when Trump made an appearance
on The View. Few at the time thought he had a real interest in—or
shot at—the presidency. But polls indicated he was popular, and he
 was flirting with the idea. Wearing his trademark dumpy blue suit and
 long red tie, the New York real estate mogul launched into what today
 feels like a typical stump speech. “We’re not going to be a great country
 for long if we keep going the way we’re going right now,” he said.
Trump was friendly and cordial, cracking jokes and holding Whoopi
Goldberg’s hand. But when the conversation turned to Obama, it
grew heated. “Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” Trump
whined. “If you’re going to be the president of the United States…
you have to be born in this country.”
The birther canard—that Obama was born in Kenya or somewhere
abroad—didn’t start with Trump. (And despite his false claims, it didn’t 
start with Hillary Clinton either.) But perhaps more than any other
figure, Trump proliferated birtherism, took the lie from the lunatic
fringes of the internet and brought it to the mainstream. After his
appearance on The View, he went further, implying to Laura
Ingraham, the conservative commentator, that the president might
secretly be a Muslim. After Obama produced his birth certificate i
n April 2011, Trump briefly acknowledged his legitimacy, then
quickly seemed to recant, saying that “a lot of people do not think
it was an authentic certificate.” In doing so, he soaked up some
much-desired publicity, which arguably helped him launch his
2016 campaign.
Not everyone on the right bought into birtherism. Some, such as talk
show host Michael Medved, slammed the conspiracy theory.
“Birtherism, he said, “makes us look weird. It makes us look crazy.
It makes us look demented. It makes us look sick, troubled and
not suitable for civilized company.”
Decades of liberal contempt, including the almost reflexive dismissal
of conservatives as ignorant racists, had created deep antipathy
on the right. And during the Obama years in particular, many
conservatives felt attacked. First there was the massive stimulus
package, which threatened to balloon the national debt. Then the
Democratic Congress rammed through Obamacare with the barest of
partisan majorities. These moves came at a time when conservatives
felt their free speech and religious liberty were under assault, when
the Internal Revenue Service was targeting Tea Party groups, and on
 university campuses activists began enforcing their demands for
ideological conformity, complete with lists of micro aggressions,
 trigger warnings and safe spaces. Later, Democrats began dismantling
 the filibuster, while Obama, frustrated by gridlock in Congress,
started issuing a dizzying array of executive orders on issues ranging
from immigration to clean power.
The right distorted and exaggerated all of these issues. But Democrats
seemed to act as if their success were preordained, not merely by
history but by demographics, assuring themselves that as America
became younger and more diverse, it would deliver one liberal win
after another. Not content with winning historic victories on gay
marriage, some progressives called their opponents bigots, deriding
their religious faith as hatred and discrimination. The goal was not
 tolerance but to drive out dissent. Or so it seemed to many
conservatives, especially evangelicals, who came to feel they were
not simply losing the culture war; they were being dismissed by a
country they no longer recognized.
During the 2016 campaign, for instance, commentators on the left
expressed legitimate concern that Trump was encouraging violence
at some of his rallies. At the same time, conservatives were
inundated with stories, links and video clips of protesters chanting
“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” and
“Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” But on cable television, they
watched their concerns about law and order denounced as racial
“dog whistles.”
Since the 1950s, conservatives have criticized the bias and double
standards of the mainstream media. And much of the criticism has
been deserved. Conservatives may exaggerate media bias, but
 they do not imagine it. The double standards made for daily
fodder on my radio show for the past 23 years.
During much of that time, I was proud to be part of the conservative
media. I frequently shared the latest column by Charles Krauthammer
or set up topics by reading a Wall Street Journal editorial on the air.
Other hosts provided a broad forum for conservatives to share their
views. Sure, we had our problems, our excesses—particularly during
the Bill Clinton years. But I genuinely believed we were helping
people become savvier, more sophisticated analysts of current affairs.
During the Obama era, however, we crossed a line. The right’s echo
chamber didn’t just remain silent about the crackpots in our ranks,
it embraced them, exploiting their insanity for clicks and ratings.
 Take Matt Drudge. His site, the Drudge Report, consistently ranks
as one of the top five media publishers in the country, often drawing
 more than a billion page views a month. Media critic John Ziegler
describes him as the tacit “assignment editor” for conservative talk
radio, right-leaning websites and a significant portion of Fox News.
n the 1970s, I was a liberal, until I looked around and decided I no
longer wanted a part of what that had come to mean. I hated the left’s
smugness, its stridency and dogma. I also felt many of the
well-intentioned social programs seemed to hurt the very people they were designed to help. My decision came slowly, but it was liberating to
break free from the cant of tribal politics and its tendentious
talking points.
My circumstance today feels familiar. If the conservative movement
is defined by the nativist, authoritarian, post-truth culture of Trump
and Bannon, I want no part of it. So once again, I am an ideological
Despite the demands that conservatives obey the new regime, precisely
the opposite is needed. Rather than conformity, conservatism needs
dissidents, contrarians. It needs people who believe in things like
liberty, free markets, limited government and personal responsibility—
but who have no obligation to defend the indefensible or rely on
alternative facts. It needs people who can affirm that Trump won the
 election fairly and freely but recognize the gravity of Russia’s
interference in the campaign. It needs those can support tougher
border controls and still be appalled by the cruelty and incompetence
of the president’s immigration bans. It needs those who applaud
Trump’s support for Israel but are still thoroughly appalled by his
slavish adulation of Putin and his flirtation with France’s Marine Le Pen.
This position will be a lonely one; we may lose some friends. But
conservatives have a long history of being out of step with the spirit
of the age. It’s worth remembering that conservative spokesmen
like Buckley were actively opposed to Nixon during Watergate, well
before he stepped down. Today, there are no “Nixon conservatives,”
short of maybe Roger Stone.
They are extinct. And good riddance.
Strap yourselves in for this ride with NEWSWEEK Contributor CHARLES
SYKES as he gives us a glimpse into HOW The RIGHT LOST ITS MIND


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